Most little girls play with dolls. They brush their hair and put a pretty dress on them. They hug and squeeze them and whisper “I love you” at night. They take this doll everywhere. It becomes their best friend. I had one of these dolls, and I still have her today. My doll is different than the rest. She’s 4’11 with long brown hair and almond shaped eyes. She sparkles and shines wherever she goes, and her angelic voice keeps me going in life. You can’t buy this doll at the store, because she’s truly one of a kind. My doll is my sister Alaina, and I would not trade her for all the dolls in the world.
Growing up my sister and I were always close. Being a couple years older than me, I always looked up to my big sister. We did everything together. We played dolls, played house, did each other’s hair, and even dressed the same. There was no me without her.
All through my life, I never saw my sister as disabled, different, or not the same as me. She talked, she laughed, she cried, she ate cookies with me until we were going to explode. I never noticed a difference until other people began to look at her differently. I wondered why? It made me upset and angry as a little girl. I can name at least ten times when I lashed out at someone for a look, a comment, or an insult they gave towards my sister. It hurt me just as much as it hurt her. I wanted everyone to know she is my sister, and she is not different. She is special and just like you and me, but even better. This is how I came to discover what I wanted to do with my life.
Currently, I am enrolled at Gwynedd Mercy University and am two semesters away from graduating with a degree in early education as well as special education. There lies my true passion, and it is all because of my sister. Each and every day here is for her. Even when there are days where I want to play the typical college student who skips class because sleep is better, I got up for Alaina. She pushes me to be a better person, because she is the best person I know.
My sister, due to having Down syndrome, does not attend college nor will she, but she still gets up every day, Monday to Friday, and goes to work. She works at North Penn Technical Developmental Enterprise Corporation where she develops more learning and life skills and continues to do her part for local businesses. While she is there, I am at school training and learning to become not only an educator in the field of special education but also a voice. I want everyone to know how special my sister is to me, and I take that chance any time I can by mentioning her during class or writing a term paper about her. Most college students still are undecided here, but thanks to my sister, my life path has been paved.
No matter what happens, my sister will always be by my side. I vow to take full guardianship of her when my parents no longer can. I protected my sister growing up from the harsh comments and insults people would throw around, especially the “R” word, and I will continue to protect her, the rest of her life. I leaned on her as a little girl to show me the world and all the good in it, and therefore, for the rest of her life, she can lean on me and know everything is always going to be okay. She may be six inches shorter than me, but she is my big and beautiful sister, and I love each and every part of her.
By: Jenna Caffarello